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Mediator Mel Haley wins best graduating student of FDRP
17 December 2021

Mediator Mel Haley wins best graduating student of FDRP

Published on 17 December 2021

Mel Haley believes the key to resolving conflict is early intervention, particularly when the conflict concerns families. As CEO of Conflict Resolution Service, she has spent her career in early intervention, working closely with families, courts, workplaces and communities to defuse and reduce conflict. We caught up with Mel about what attracted her to Family Dispute Resolution Practice (FDRP), how it helped progress her career, and what advice she might have for lawyers considering a career in FDRP.

Congratulations again on being recognised as a best graduating student of FDRP (sponsored by Barry.Nilson),. What was your favourite part of study? Do you have a lecturer you want to shout out?

Shout out: Helen Jarvis. Helen was extremely giving of her time and resources. She provided really considerate feedback, which I use not only in my FDR life, but in my everyday life as a mediator.

Although the course was online, I met some lovely people with whom I still connect with today. I have a number of qualifications, but I can honestly say this was my most favourite. I have a background in Early Intervention and strongly believe in having systems whereby families can choose and make their own decisions on what happens to themselves and their children. FDR creates a space where families can talk about their conflict in a safe environment to begin the healing process and concentrate on a positive co-parenting relationship. 

What was your first job in law? What led you to your current role?

I have spent the majority of my career in early intervention. I have a strong belief in wrapping support systems around families to rebuild and strengthen relationships.

I started out as a Mediator, but I found I was passionate about helping families avoid a generational cycle of vulnerability, which spurred me to become an FDRP.

I am currently the CEO of Conflict Resolution Service in Canberra. Here, we work with families, the community, Courts and workplaces to reduce and/or resolve conflict. We provide a program that specifically works with young people and their families to reduce the risk of youth homelessness caused by family conflict.

I am also the Chair of the Family Law Pathway Network in Canberra. Having completed my FDRP qualification I feel I am better equipped to Chair this committee.

Where do you work now, and what is the most rewarding aspect of your role?

As CEO of Conflict Resolution Service, I have the opportunity to lead and provide strategic direction for an organisation that supports people to move out of conflict. Where it would assist, I can also provide FDR and mediation services. Providing strategic business acumen while also practically doing what I love makes this the most rewarding job I have had.

How have your studies helped with what you do at work? Has it helped progress your career? Do you have any examples?

Completing my FDRP has enabled me to provide better support to my staff and be a better mediator in everyday disputes. I feel my leadership responsibilities as a CEO and Chair of the Family Law Pathway Network are enhanced after completing this study.

What advice would you have for lawyers looking to move into FDRP?

Effective and positive co-parenting relationships can happen only after people have the opportunity to release the burden of conflict. When parents can release this burden, and where acknowledgment is given, parents can move on and form a positive co-parenting relationship.

Can this happen in a Courtroom? Not as likely. This is why FDRP can play such a crucial role in resolving conflict long-term. 

Barry.Nilson, sponsor of the award, congratulated Mel on her success.


“Barry.Nilsson. is proud to sponsor the prize for the Best Graduating Student in Family Dispute Resolution Practice. At Barry.Nilsson, we have a strong commitment to dispute resolution, whether that be through negotiation or mediation, and we are pleased to support the continuing education of the profession, which ultimately benefits those involved in the family law system. We congratulate Melissa on her achievement and wish her every success.”